October 23, 2003
U.S.: Sept. 11, Pearl Death Linked
The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks is believed to be the murderer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who American authorities now believe is behind both incidents, is in U.S. custody. Pearl, the Journal's South Asia bureau chief, was kidnapped last year in Pakistan. His captors forced him to admit his Jewishness on videotape before slitting his throat and decapitating him. In a related development, a Hollywood studio reportedly has paid a "high six-figure sum" for rights to the memoirs of Pearl's widow, Mariane.
Palestinian Film Gets Oscar Consideration
A Palestinian film could be nominated as best foreign-language film by the Oscar committee. "Divine Intervention" an absurdist look at the story of two Palestinian lovers, was rejected by the academy last year after it was submitted by its French producer.
"We're not trying to be the U.N. and say that Palestine is a country. We're saying that there's a film industry that considers itself Palestinian, and it has come up with a film worthy of submission," said John Pavlik, a spokesman for the Oscars. Nominees for the 76th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 27.
Kidnap Story Revealed
Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum was making an unauthorized trip to Abu Dhabi when he was kidnapped. The news about Tannenbaum, who is being held captive in Lebanon, came after the Israeli Supreme Court lifted a gag order on the case. According to security sources, Tannenbaum was lured to Abu Dhabi in autumn 2000 by an Israeli Arab who offered him a business proposition, but who actually was a Hezbollah operative. Once there, Tannenbaum was drugged and transported to Lebanon, possibly via Iran. Tannenbaum's family tried to keep the gag order in place, fearing public pressure could scuttle a deal being negotiated to return the businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah in exchange for the release by Israel of several hundred Arab security prisoners.
Presidential candidate Howard Dean conducted his first major meeting with U.S. Jewish leadership Friday. The Vermont governor, who miffed some Jews last month by saying America should approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with more "evenhandedness," visited the sukkah of Manhattan's Lincoln Square synagogue to shake hands with children before his first major meeting with about 25 Jewish communal leaders, Dean spokesman Eric Schmeltzer said.
"[The] fact that there is this meeting shows he wants to listen," said the synagogue's rabbi, Adam Mintz. "I think he needs to hear from Jewish leadership that [his Middle East position is] problematic," because Israel is "responding to terrorists" when it carries out military measures against the Palestinians.
Rabbi Attacked Near Paris
A rabbi was attacked near his synagogue in the Paris suburbs. Michel Serfaty, rabbi of the Ris Orangis Synagogue, was on his way to Shabbat prayers last Friday night in Evry when a car approached and a number of youths began shouting racial insults at him. He was then hit across the face by one of the men and was lightly injured. Two men have been detained by police and are being investigated for what police termed "a racially motivated attack." Investigators said the men had yelled "Yid" and "Palestine, Palestine will smash your face in."
Visiting the synagogue on Sunday, Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF organization of French Jews, described the attack as "unacceptable and worrying for the future of French society."
The attack was also strongly condemned by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who said he would visit the synagogue in coming days.
'Sesame Street' Opens in Mideast
A new string of "Sesame Street" episodes is airing in Israel, the Palestinian areas and Jordan. The 26 episodes, which teach tolerance and coexistence, are being produced with money from the European Union, the Ford Foundation and other sources. The new episodes were broadcast in Israel in September. Arabic versions will be aired in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan at the end of October. The new shows are different from the Palestinian-Israeli version that was produced in 1998.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.